Brightwell

AQUATiCb if5 about sdente, it's about time.

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w wM.b rig htwel ldqudtks.com aquatic maestro nine form a duct to guide sperm necessary for internal fertilization. This copulatory organ is found on the male livebearer, making sexing the fish easy.

Around the vent of these fish are paired fins (pelvic) and a single anal fin modified in the males as described previously. It can be directed to either side and has hooks to establish contact during the chase. To aid in the transfer of the sperm, which happens during the brief contact at high speed, a pheromone is excreted which "stalls" the female in its flight.

One unique species is either right or left "handed" in terms of directing the gonopodium. One has internal fertilization and lays fertile eggs. Most females are capable of superfetation — the ability to retain viable sperm in the ovarian lining. Thus, the potential for the eggs being readily fertilized is very high. Females commonly carry developing embryos of varying ages.

When we consider all the variations discussed in terms of survival, from an evolutionary position, it supports the saying, "Ain't nature grand?" Babies seem to appear constantly.

Some 30 years ago during my live-bearer period, I kept a large female brick-red platy in a refrigerator liner modified to be a 50-gallon aquarium. The door became the top. I was testing the superfetation ability. This particular female had eight successive yields over that many months without a male present. This capability may account for the occasional strange claim about a guppy being some swordtail's father.

Getting it Right

As fertile as the livebearers are, people bemoan their lack of success. Look to some external problem. Are you getting babies in the early hours, which disappear due to lack of cover? Is the temperature too low? Most of these fish are tropical and produce year-round. Is the duration of light right? The tropics have equal day/night segments and 12 hours produces the best results.

These livebearers belong to a family named Poeciliidae. There are many genera and species. You'll find some poecilias (mollies and guppies, some Xiphophorus spp.), swordtails, platys (moons) and other varieties and an occasional Gambusia sp. and Limia sp.

One last fish is worth mentioning becausei||is a truly predatory one: the pike livebearer (Belonesox spp.). If I've managed to pique your interest, then ^ontact the American Livebearer Association at http://livebearers.org/. And for a real eye opener google parthenogenesis. 'Til next time. U

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